September 20, 2017

The Downside of Weight Loss

Throughout the last seven years of blogging, I felt like I've written all there is to say about weight loss. I've been asked all the questions over the years, several times over, and I was just tired of writing about it. However, in coming up with some fresh ideas, I'm kind of excited to write about it again.

In brainstorming ideas to write for WebMD (like I mentioned on Friday), I came up with a long list of topics regarding weight loss that I've never really written about in-depth before. So, I think I may start writing about some of these things.

One thing I've never really touched on is the not-so-exciting part of weight loss.

At 253 pounds, I just knew that if I lost 120 pounds or so that I would be the person I'd always hoped to be: pretty, outgoing, extroverted, talkative, funny, social, and not-at-all awkward. Each time I tried to lose weight, it all started with that bit of hope that I would become "my real self" as the weight came off.

Anyway, I'm sure you can see where this is going. Imagine my surprise (and disappointment) when I stood on the scale at 130-ish pounds, and I was still the same person I was before, just in a smaller size. I was getting much more attention, but I wasn't sure what to do with it. I was still incredibly socially awkward (I am to this day, after seven years!). I'm also an introvert. Shy.

If this photo isn't the definition of awkward, I don't know what is.

I had to push myself out of my comfort zone in a big way to start gaining some confidence (this is a topic I will go into depth with another time). Still, though, even with the confidence boost, I wasn't the person I dreamed I'd be. I wasn't the person that I thought I was going to be.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to losing a large amount of weight is the constant fear of gaining it back. From the day I stepped on the scale at my goal weight, the odds were against my keeping it off. There was a 95% chance I would be back to 250+ pounds in two years. From that moment, every decision I made regarding food was thought out, good or bad.

Once you learn or hear something, you can't just unlearn it. During my weight loss, I learned how many calories were in just about any food you can imagine. I learned how many miles I would have to run to negate the extra calories I wanted to eat. I learned that every binge has consequences.

I learned that there was no going back... at least without the embarrassment of everyone seeing me gain it all back. There were moments that I actually wished I was fat again, because in some ways, life was so much simpler then. It sounds odd, that I would worry about "there's no going back now"--because I had always wanted to lose the weight, and I finally did!

It was scary, though. I remember when I went to the hospital to give birth to Noah, and as I was in labor, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of, "There's no going back. We can't change our minds now. Our lives are 100% changed forever." And it scared me. I had no idea how to be a mom, or even if I would enjoy being a mom. But once you are, you can't undo it.

That's how I felt about the weight loss. If I had lost 10 or 20 pounds, it wouldn't have felt like a big deal. Lots of people lose 20 pounds and gain it back! But I had lost 125 pounds, which is pretty damn noticeable. After losing that much weight, and my friends and family had seen it, there was no going back.

Losing all of that weight and changing my life forever (whether I keep it off or not) was a decision that I didn't even realize I'd made. When I started losing weight, I assumed it would be just like every other time. Even when I lost 50 pounds, I knew it wouldn't last. Then 60. Then 70. 100. 125. I'm not sure at which number I started to feel that sense of, "Oh, shit, what am I doing? What am I getting myself into?"

By the time I realized this, I had already jumped into it with both feet. I certainly embraced the good parts of the weight loss: wearing clothes I never thought I'd fit into; getting compliments that I wasn't used to; hearing catcalls from guys instead of them calling me a cow from their cars while I was out exercising. Not to mention that I was so much healthier and able to be more active with my family. Setting a good example for my kids.

Because it's been so long since I lost the weight, I think that sometimes people forget that I was obese. And maybe they think it's easy for me to keep it off--effortless. The truth is, it's almost always on my mind. The fear of gaining it all back. I struggle a lot more than I probably appear to.

Interestingly, I felt just as awkward in this photo (at 123 pounds) as I did in the first photo! Jessica and Renee are pretty, funny, talkative, outgoing. I felt like, "Do they really want me in this photo? Or are they asking me out of obligation?" My insecurity is ridiculous in these moments.

When I go to a party with friends, and they load up plates of food, they probably don't realize that I am being very careful about how much I am putting on my plate, and planning out what I want to have the most, so I don't "waste" calories on things I won't enjoy as much. When I go grocery shopping, I consciously choose not to put a dozen of my old binge foods in my cart--but that's a hard decision for me!

Over the last several months, I've been able to relax quite a bit--I am not nearly as worried about the number on the scale, as long as it stays within reason; I have actually learned to eat in an intuitive way, which is something I've always wanted; and I've stopped putting so much pressure on myself to be "the success story".

I do still have to make conscious decisions every single day to do what I can not to gain the weight back, though. Do I wish I could eat a large flurry every day in the summer? Yes. Do I wish that I could order pizza and breadsticks and eat until I'm stuffed, just like I used to? Of course. I've just found a way to balance what I want most (the pizza and ice cream) with what I'm willing to live with. To be happy with.

Binge eating only makes me feel happy for a very short time--15 minutes, tops. The beating myself up for it lasts days. I am finally at a place where I can think about and make that decision not to binge because I don't want those consequences. In some ways, it's easier not to binge, because then I won't have to waste the effort of being so hard on myself.

I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining. I am thrilled that I lost the weight and I'm going to continue to do my best to keep it off! But it's not easy. It wasn't easy when I started (hell, it was the hardest thing I've ever done); it wasn't easy when I reached goal; and it certainly wasn't easy for the last seven years.

So, with the good parts of weight loss come some drawbacks--but the good is so much better. I would do it again in a heartbeat, although I'm not sure that I'd be able to. It was hard enough the first time! But I feel a million times better about myself now, and that's what I choose to focus on. I'll always have to be conscious of my decisions if I really want to keep the weight off, but the good parts are worth the struggle.

My Wednesday Weigh-in this morning suggests that I was right about the anxiety medication...

I was at 134.4 last week. I suspected that a new medication I started for anxiety was causing my weight to climb, because I hadn't changed my diet at all. I didn't like the way the medication made me feel--I felt too careless, lazy, and very tired. Also, it didn't really help my anxiety. So, I stopped taking that and my weight went down significantly this week. I even ate Chinese food last night, which is a sodium nightmare!


  1. Thank you so much for your honesty. I've lost about 85 lbs and am around 195. I have been surprised at the mental baggage that comes with losing a large amount of weight. I was surprised to find that I was sad about no longer (for the most part) being able to shop at plus size stores. At the beginning, I thought I would be thrilled to be out of plus sizes, and I am. However, my entire adult life I have shopped at Lane Bryant, Avenue and Catherines. I felt comfortable shopping in those stores. I sometimes feel when I am shopping in regular sizes that someone's going to come up and say "Hey, you are shopping in the wrong part of the store- there's nothing for you over here." It's really crazy the amount of anxiety it gives me and I never expected to feel that way.

    1. I have that same issue, I keep going to the Plus Size section of the store....

  2. It's really nice to read that the struggle never really ended for you -- because I feel like it's so much more honest than we're lead to believe.

    In this age of Instagram models and Snapchat filters, it's hard to avoid the constant bombardment of images of girls prettier than me, slimmer than me, and trying less hard then me. If that makes sense?

    It's nice to know I'm not the only one out there struggling!

  3. Now that I am working full time I have less time to comment and thoroughly read posts....just wanted to say ....this is a good one I will have to come back to and read again over the weekend. ;-)

  4. I totally get what you are saying about the weight gain fears. I have been up and down the scale so many times and the complex feelings that come with that. I feel like I can never really enjoy being at my goal weight. Thank you for always being so open and honest with your feelings and being willing to share!

  5. I feel like I'm in fear of starting the weight-loss process. It takes so much work and dedication, and I can never get it to stay off. Then I know that if I do reach my goal weight, I will have the fear of gaining it back and wasting all my time. I'm trying to be happy at my current weight (not necessarily unhealthy) even though I'd like to be fitter. Can we ever completely get out of our own heads?

  6. Katie, I am a major lurker on your blog and have never commented before. I love it though and actually recommend it to people often. Coming from someone who struggles with her weight I just want you to know I appreciate your candor and honesty, about everything you blog about, it's so refreshing to hear from someone who's not being fake and only putting their best face forward. I admire your journey and your realness in everything you share. You're awesome, thank you!!!

  7. Katie, I have read your blog for years. I really understand your struggle with the constant thinking about food and the constant bingeing/guilty/diet cycle, as I struggled myself for over 20 years. Two resources have absolutely changed my life in the past 5 years: I read Never Binge Again by Glenn Livingston. It is an absolute must read. I have had slip ups here and there, but I am 95% better than I was before I read that book. Also, look up a way of eating called NSNG ( Using Mr. Livingston's principles in Never Binge Again to eat NSNG has been life-changing, and I can't go without at least recommending to you. I never thought there was a permanent answer to the constant struggle until this. I wish you all the best, and I appreciate how you put yourself out there. It really helps to hear that others struggle with these demons; however, I do not wish it on anyone. Best of luck to you!

  8. Ugh, weight can be both a blessing and a curse at times. When I was at my heaviest is when my John fell in love with me. So I know he loves me when I'm all sorts of shapes & sizes! But I too struggle with the thought of gaining it all back. Even though I know he will love me...I shudder at the thought of returning to that version of me (although perhaps my wallet would thank me - I'd buy less clothes! Haha).

    But those dumb meds! If it weren't for meds, I never would have gained those 60+ pounds in the first place! It is such a struggle to find the one that works for you - but don't give up! I have confidence that you will find something that works for you!! (It only took me a decade...but it was TOTALLY worth it!) ;)

  9. This is such an interesting thought... all your problems do not go away when you lose weight?!?!? Why do we think this? Talk about setting yourself up for failure! I am currently amidst a weight loss journey and hoping THIS time sticks. What I am thankful for knowing now (which I didn't know the other million times I tried to loose weight) is that I will still be me when I get to goal; and to be fair-- it is a good thing.

  10. I have never been obese and at the most have only had to lose about 25 lbs, but I can say the feelings of anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off, and stay healthy can be very similar in a relevant sort of way. And to all those who are struggling, and hopefully winning to challenge, you have my support. But I must add, as I am 62 years old, and through menopause that the weight struggles, even if you have achieved your desired goal, will challenge you again, big time. And many of the former habits to lose weight and keep it off that worked prior to menopause suddenly fail you. I am a very active person, weights 3 days a week at the gym with a trainer, walking 25 miles a day with our dog, lots and lots of gardening, yoga, meditation, getting back to running and up to 2.5 miles, eating 85% vegan, but that weight is stubborn and settles right in the mid section. I worry about cholesterol levels and feel the inching up in numbers is because of the weight around the waste. I'm never giving up, but my advice is get the weight off as soon as you can, keep it off and get ready for the menopause shift. It's real. It's different. And it's a challenge.


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